2 votes

Bellefountain Bridge



Iowa DOT photo

BH Photo #198089


Like many bridges across major rivers, the Bellefountain Bridge was preceded for years by a ferry operation. Located at the small town of Bellefountain along the Des Moines River in western Mahaska County, this multiple span truss was erected here in 1898. That year, after granting licenses for the ferry for decades, the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors finally agreed to build a permanent bridge at this point. In May the county solicited competitive bides for the bridge's fabrication ad erection. Attracted by the sizable profits for such a large scale project, virtually all of the major bridge firms in the region submitted bids in June. Low bidder at $9,750, Clinton Bridge and Iron Works won the contract. The Clinton, Iowa, firm built the four pinned Pratt trusses on large-diameter steel cylinder piers that year. The Bellefountain Bridge carried mainline traffic without alteration for three decades until its replacement in 1930 with another truss a half-mile upstream. The 1898 bridge continued to serve local traffic, but eventually, without maintenance, it was closed. Today most of the timber floor system has rotted away, and the bridge has been allowed to molder in place by the county. The Bellefountain Bridge is distinguished among the remaining Pratt through trusses by relatively early construction date and multiplicity of relatively long spans [adapted from Fraser 1992].


Pratt through truss bridge over Des Moines River on Jefferson Street.
Mahaska County, Iowa, and Marion County, Iowa
Closed to all traffic
Future prospects
Mahaska County is interested in making this a trail bridge.
Built 1898
- Clinton Bridge & Iron Works of Clinton, Iowa
(4)9-panel, pinned Pratt through trusses
Length of largest span: 145.0 ft.
Total length: 595.0 ft.
Deck width: 16.1 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 13.1 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on May 15, 1998
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.28055, -92.86135   (decimal degrees)
41°16'50" N, 92°51'41" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/511611/4569910 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Land survey
T. 75 N., R. 17 W., Sec. 19
Average daily traffic (as of 2010)
Inventory numbers
IA 34955 (Iowa bridge number)
NRHP 98000506 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 13982 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of January 2014)
Sufficiency rating: 17.5 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • October 9, 2016: New photos from Lee Smith
  • July 31, 2015: New photos from Chris Meiners
  • February 20, 2014: New photos from Jack Schmidt
  • December 21, 2012: Photo imported by Luke Harden
  • April 5, 2012: Updated by Craig Philpott: corrected spelling
  • April 5, 2012: New photos from Jason Smith
  • April 3, 2012: New photos from Jason Smith
  • August 11, 2011: Updated by Luke Harden: Corrected name and added description
  • April 27, 2011: Updated by Tony Dillon: Added common name


  • Tony Dillon - spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com
  • Luke
  • Jason Smith - flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com
  • Craig Philpott - craigphilpott63 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Historicbridges.org - by Nathan Holth
  • Jack Schmidt - jjturtle [at] earthlink [dot] net
  • Lee Smith - ljsmith_32 [at] hotmail [dot] com


Bellefountain Bridge
Posted April 5, 2012, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)

Thanks guys! I'm currently using an Apple computer (iMac) so I'm not sure if it makes a difference or not. I will try and experiment and see if I have some luck. If not, I'll let you know. Thanks! :-)

Bellefountain Bridge
Posted April 4, 2012, by James Baughn (webmaster [at] bridgehunter [dot] com)

Ahh, but we do have a built-in photo rotation tool. Just click the yellow "Edit this photo" button next to a particular photo, and then use the "Rotate left" or "Rotate right" buttons as needed.

Bellefountain Bridge
Posted April 4, 2012, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Didn't mean to start a maelstrom JS... I just figured you had forgotten to rotate them.

I've certainly done it before. :)

Bellefountain Bridge
Posted April 4, 2012, by Luke Harden (lmharden [at] iastate [dot] edu)

Windows Paint has the ability to rotate images as well.

Bellefountain Bridge
Posted April 4, 2012, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)


What type of computer do you have? Unless its really ancient, ability to rotate photos should be built-in to the operating system. If you have XP, use Windows Picture and Fax Viewer (the default program to open photos) and in newer versions of Windows its called Windows Photo Viewer. Also, numerous free programs are available on the Internet to rotate and edit images.

Bellefountain Bridge
Posted April 4, 2012, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)

Problem is there was no function on the website nor my computer where I could put the pics in an upright position. Perhaps if James could take care of that that would be great....

PS, the same applies to the Christian Co. MO bridges I posted yesterday.

Bellefountain Bridge
Posted April 3, 2012, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Those sideways pics are hurtin' my neck JS ;p

Des Moines River Bridge
Posted April 8, 2010, by Dave Darby (dwdarby [at] aol [dot] com)

For some reason photos didn't make it past the editing stage. Here they are.

Des Moines River Bridge
Posted April 3, 2010, by Dave Darby (dwdarby [at] aol [dot] com)

This bridge is known as the Bellefountain Bridge. More information can be found at the Iowa DOT website under "Historical Bridges." The 1914 photo is from the Iowa DOT website, the 2010 photo is by me.